Protecting migrant workers

Across the Asia-Pacific region, labour migration has brought many benefits to countries of origin and destination, and especially to migrants themselves who generally earn far more than they could at home. But migration also brings risks — in particular exposing workers to exploitation or discrimination. The regional priority area “Protecting Migrant Workers in Asia and the Pacific” shows how the ILO can help countries of the region to manage those risks more effectively.

For any country, the best long-run solution to unemployment and poverty is sustained national economic growth — which will generate rewarding jobs at home so that fewer people will need to look for work abroad. Nevertheless, for the foreseeable future many countries in Asia and the Pacific will rely on the opportunities afforded by international migration — which can help reduce levels of unemployment while also generating significant amounts of foreign exchange through remittances. As a result, a number of Asian countries have made efforts to promote overseas employment. At the same time, destination countries have been recruiting workers for particular employment niches that cannot be filled by national workforces.

The ILO is the only international body with a mandate for international labour migration. Our chief function is to set international standards and arrive at other forms of agreement. The most recent of these is the Multilateral Framework on Labour Migration – which comprises a set of principles and best practices that have been formally vetted by our constituents.

The ILO also offers a wealth of information on international migration, as well as technical assistance to countries on many different issues, from training to social security. As an international organization, ILO is also able to foster networking opportunities between governments, employers organizations, trade unions and organizations of migrant workers.

As part of the ADWD resource kit, please download the booklet “Protecting Migrant Workers – Governance of Labour Migration in Asia and the Pacific”. The booklet serves as a gateway into ILO expertise and knowledge within this regional priority area. It briefly discusses key migration issues in Asia and the Pacific, and - in the electronic version – links directly to key resources, tools and related projects.

For further questions please contact the ILO Regional office at